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Curious about hand positions(15 posts)

Curious about hand positionsMr Nick
Oct 7, 2003 2:13 PM
Two things:

1) I am wondering if I am the only person who doesn't ever use their drops? I have only been riding since May, but I still ride about 100 miles a week in AZ and have only been in my drops twice. Both times I was going down a relatively steep hill and only did it because it seemed like the thing to do. Most of the time I prefer to stay on my hoods and just tuck a little more. If everyone else does ride in the drops a lot, when do you do it?

2) Recently I found what I consider to be the most comfortable hand position that I use to date. I love to hold the top of the handlebar right in the center with my thumbs touching and covering the stem. (I included a picture of the area I mean) On flats, this hand position allows complete comfort, decent aero positioning, and seems to help me smooth out my spin. Is this a normal hand position? And if other people use this position, how similar is it to aero bars? I am wondering if aero bars would be good for me since I like this position so much?

Thanks for the help.
If you are not terribly comfortable even with your hands onbill
Oct 7, 2003 2:35 PM
the hoods, let alone the drops, it's possible you have fit issues.
Could be that your bars are too low. Could be that your reach is too far. Could be both.
I don't ride in the drops a whole lot, but I do some (maybe 20% of the time). I rarely ride with my hands where you describe unless I'm on (a) a long climb or (b) a very social, very mellow ride, and I'm up that high because I'm talking more than riding.
If you are not terribly comfortable even with your hands onMr Nick
Oct 7, 2003 2:44 PM
The center position doesn't put me very high because I bend my elbows quite a bit and stay fairly aero. I usually can spin at around 18-20mph in this position on flats and can take gradual corners no problem. Actually seems fairly versatile to me. I am comfortable in the hoods, I just don't like to be in the drops because there doesn't seem to be any point.
poor steering control...C-40
Oct 7, 2003 2:44 PM
Usually, grasping the top of the bars is done during climbing, where speeds are slow. Even then I take a wide grip, near the curves in the top of the bar. Grasping the bars near the center significant quickens the response to steering input by shortening the "steering arm" which is a straight line from the point of hand contact to the center of the steerer.

It's most common to spend the majority of your time on the brake hoods, using the drops only when descending and during critical cornering (when your fingers should be on the brake levers).

If the top section feels so good, it makes me think your stem is too long. With the proper reach, the brake hoods should provide better comfort. If you want to get low and more aero on the flats, try placing the palms of your hands over the highest point on the ergo or STI lever. This makes for a wide aero-bar-like position.
I use the drops a lotDropped
Oct 7, 2003 2:53 PM
I probably ride in the drops 40% of the time, which includes downhills and at least half the time on the flats.

I'd echo responses above, that if you're never in the drops, you may have an excessive drop or too much reach. I see too much reach quite a bit, especially (but not always) on the big U.S. brand bikes. In fact, I'd bet your reach is too long if you find that putting your hands on the flat portion of the bar is most comfortable.
another thing to try...C-40
Oct 7, 2003 3:00 PM
As I've been experimenting with moving my saddle furhter back to improve my climbing, I decided to try Salsa "Poco" short reach bars, rather than a shorter (90mm) stem. These bars will shorten the reach to the brake hoods by about 1.5cm. The bars also have a shallow drop which makes the drop section of the bars more inviting, particularly if you use a 9cm bar to saddle height like I do.
re: Curious about hand positionslaffeaux
Oct 7, 2003 3:06 PM
Although I don't hold the bar where you do, I don't spend a lot of time in the drops either. The hoods work for me, and that's where my hands are most of the time. Occassionally down hills I'll go to the drops, and when there is a strong headwind I'll go to the drops.
re: Curious about hand positionsMikeDee
Oct 7, 2003 3:16 PM
I ride in the drops a lot, especially when I want to go faster and downhill because I can use the brake levers better from there.

No, I never put my hands next to the stem except when riding one handed. Why put your hands on a part of the bar that's not padded? Putting your hands on the tops of the bar is a climbing position and puts you in an upright position - not very aero.

If you don't use the drops, it's usually because your bars are too low. Raise them up and discover the drops.
I ride the drops most of the timeKerry Irons
Oct 7, 2003 4:12 PM
If I need a tighter tuck, I bend my elbows. A lot of it depends on personal flexibility and bike setup. Per other poster's comments, it sounds like your bike is not set up properly and/or doesn't fit. It seems only reasonable that you would have things set up so that you make use the range of available positions, and if you are only really comfortable on the tops, then you most likely have too much reach and/or drop to the bars.
I live in the dropsJFR
Oct 7, 2003 4:33 PM
Disclaimer: After a decade of mtbing I have only 2k miles on my first road bike (since June). So I'm not an expert on roadie fit.

With that said, let me share with you. I live in the drops. I ride the hoods only for a change up when desired (approx 25% ride time). I almost never use the flats of the bar... usually just during warm-up/cool-down, or maybe when cruising and socializing.

At 6'3, and with broad shoulders, I feel like I have a lot of head wind exposure. I compensate by livin in the drops. I'm just as comfy there as on the hoods, so why not get the aero advantage. I do also use the "extended hoods" hand position. with my palms on the tops of my (campy) shifters and my forearms coming straight back on top of the bars. The extended hoods position is good for an optional aero position, but I prefer the drops. Sometimes when facing strong headwinds I might also simulate the typical "aero bars" position, but without the aero bars. I just put my elbows on the flats and fake it.

Personal tid bits:
- Mostly all my road riding is commuting pretty far... so efficiency and short elapsed times are desired. If I just didn't give a hoot about speed (and being aero), I suppose I might use the hoods more.
- I think I have a typical "road race" fit with a healthy drop from saddle to bar.
- When getting my fit session, it was noted that I have good flexibility.
- I'm a racer boy at heart. Riders up the road must be caught.
- I use a WCS ergo bar

I see people riding on the flats and the center of the flats (like you described) all the time. Some of them are sitting up right; some look surprisingly aero; and elbow bends ranging from none to nearly 90 degrees. I'm guessing there are a number of variables that contribute to a rider's typical hand position including: bike fit, flexibility, and the aggressive nature of the individual.

This topic of hand position kinda hit home, thus the lengthy reply. I've been sorta wondering in the back of my mind why I seem to use the drops so much more than the other riders I see. Thanks for letting me think out loud.
re: Curious about hand positionsbianchi boy
Oct 7, 2003 4:52 PM
I never rode in the drops much until I raised my handlebars due to bad numbness in my hands. Before then, I usually rode on the tops or the hoods. Now that my bars are higher (about 1" below the saddle), I find it very comfortable riding in the drops for extended periods -- particularly on the flats, downhills or when its windy. The only time I don't use the drops much is when riding in pacelines because it's harder to reach the brakes if you need to slow quickly, but even then I ride in the drops when pulling at the front.

I agree with C-40 that control could be an issue riding with your hands near the stem. I wouldn't want to ride in a paceline with someone doing that -- it would be comparable to using aerobars. It also sounds to me that your stem might be too long or handlebars too low. Another thing that can help is handlebar shape. I use a Ritchey WCS with relatively shallow drop and ergo shape, which makes it even more comfortable riding in the drops.
I agree that the stem area is dangerousbimini
Oct 8, 2003 6:46 AM
It is even less control than aerobars. Good chance of loosing control on potholes, etc. I've come close to loosing the bars at speed. It's a very scary feeling.

I mainly ride the hoods with the elbows slightly bent when in a group.

When solo I ride the hoods with the elbows fully bent and arms resting on the top of the bar or in a full tuck position in the drops. I will get up out of an aero position going up hills and out of the saddle for the steepest part of the hill. I like to be on the bends going down the hills. I feel the full tuck is the most stable possition and allows for fast reactions.
re: Curious about hand positionsswvegg
Oct 7, 2003 6:02 PM
I rarely ever ride in the drops when I'm training, I see no need to. I'm in them very often during racing. Only time I'll ever be in the drops while training is during intervals (not all the time even then) and cornering quickly.
i was just thinking of this today. i'm glad you asked.moschika
Oct 7, 2003 7:14 PM
on my ride today i was going to post this same question, more or less.

where do most people place their hands on rides?

anyway for me, most of the time my hands are on the hoods or "extended hood" position. sometimes i move my hands to the curve on the way to the hoods near the top. and sometimes i'll place them on the flat portion of the bar. and less often i'll place them in the drops or the flat portion at the end of the drops.

so basically i move my hands around. the most comfortable position is on the hoods. the drops i use for downhill and head winds or pulling at the front of a group. my belly doesn't like to get into the drops because when my thighs and knees come up they tend to hit it. still working on reducing that part ;)

anyway that's been my experience.
on aerobarsSteve_0
Oct 8, 2003 4:41 AM
I've used that position quite a bit; not uncommon amongst urban riders with trackdrops.

This position ~could~ be comparable to aerobars when set up improperly as most roadies do (i.e., just clip aeros on your bar and go). But it really isnt anything like a properly set up forward position.

do what works for you bro.